Church Stained Glass Restoration & Repair

Church Stained Glass Restoration

Church stained glass can become an important part of the worship experience for any member of your congregation who finds it inspirational, uplifting, and symbolic. Although stained glass has been popular in churches around the world for centuries, it surged in popularity here in the United States around one hundred years ago or so.

That means that many church stained glass windows in the United States are antiques, and probably are in need of either repair or restoration at this point in time. Here at Stained Glass San Antonio, we have developed an extensive, multi-step process in order to restore these magnificent windows back to their original beauty. Restoration also can ensure that your church’s stained glass windows will last another hundred years or more, continuing to inspire and enlighten you and your congregation.

Does your San Antonio church window need repair or restoration?

This depends upon the type and the extent of the damage. If a window has one or two cracked panes of glass, and needs a thorough cleaning and polishing to bring it back to life, that would be a repair job.

San Antonio church stained glass before restoration process.
Restoration is necessary when there is more extensive damage. This is often the cause due to the oxidation of the lead in stained glass windows. Oxidation occurs around the 75 year point, usually displaying a fine white film on the lead itself. Over the decades, the lead can become brittle as well. It can warp or bend beneath the weight of the stained glass window, the pull of gravity, as well as natural environmental factors. Stained glass can also deteriorate due to extensive heat buildup that occurs when a sheet of plexiglass has been placed over the window, in a misguided attempt to protect the stained glass from vandalism or the Texas elements. Unfortunately, this plexiglass scenario is all too common in San Antonio church stained glass windows.

If a large, heavy stained glass window does start to sag or bow, the structural pressures can cause the glass to start cracking or even falling out of the window, a potentially dangerous situation. If you are aware of any of these “symptoms” we suggest you contact us immediately, because they will only increase over time.

San Antonio Church Restoration

Church Stained Glass Restoration Process

To bring a damaged stained glass window back to life, while prolonging it for another century or more, is a true honor for us! We greatly value the talent and craftsmanship of our stained glass artisans who worked to make these beautiful and inspirational creations like new. If the cost of a large restoration is an issue, please talk to us about how we might be able to help with fundraising for the project.

To properly restore a stained glass window, we must conduct an assessment first. The assessment allows our team of experienced, local stained glass artisans to analyze and problem solve the root problems that have lead to deterioration of your stained glass. Once the underlying issues are identified, we create a customized plan-of-action to restore your window and deter these underlying issues from affecting it again.

Our team carefully removes your stained glass window and transports it back to our stained glass studio. The piece is soaked in a proprietary cleaning solution for at least to weeks, in order to remove decades of dirt, impurities, and stains. Once completely clean, your stained glass window is disassembled, piece by piece. The missing or damaged pieces are replaced, using matching glass that we can source from either our inventory of over 50,000 pieces or have custom blasted to ensure it perfectly matches the original. If your stained glass window features painted glass, an older technique where paint is fused to the glass by being baked in a kiln, or design experts can replicate any technique guaranteeing a flawless match.

Stained Glass San Antonio Can Help You Bring Back The Luster Of Your Stained Glass Windows

Here at Stained Glass San Antonio, we love our job and consider it more than just our duty to help keep stained glass preserved for the next generation–but our passion. Beyond the fact that church stained glass is a rich piece of US history, it is also an art form unlike any other and, therefore, deserves to be preserved. Throughout the years we have gained copious knowledge in the techniques needed to bring these beautiful treasures back to their former glory. As keepers of these beautiful pieces of art, we work hard to keep intact a piece of American history for the next generations to enjoy.

Stained Glass Restoration due to Deterioration of Lead

The glass on stained glass windows typically does not deteriorate significantly over time, but, the lead, which holds the piece together, is susceptible to degradation. This is because lead, unlike glass, is affected both by air and moisture, eventually becoming very brittle. The process takes anywhere from 60 to 120 years depending on the environment in which the glass sits and how it is cared for. By the time the lead on stained glass deteriorates, the window could very well be an antique, making them worth the time and effort of restoration by virtue of their age and value. Beyond that is their artistic contribution to society which we believe to be invaluable.

Hail Damage to Stained Glass

Hail is incredibly devastating to stained glass because it cracks and breaks the glass and often means the entire window will need to be rebuilt. Here at Stained Glass San Antonio, our process is:

  • We remove the panels
  • We match up the glass
  • We re-lead each piece
  • We install the restored stained glass window

After the stained glass restoration, we will also install additional protective measures, using nearly unbreakable glass on the exterior of your church stained glass to prevent hail damage from happening again.

religious stained glass design san antonio

Wind Damage to Stained Glass

In older churches, stained glass is often built into the original building and not protected from the elements. This can lead to the lead being stretched by the wind. When lead stretches occurs it looks like bowed or concave windows. This is never good for the life or looks of your stained glass and if left for too long, it will result in the glass pieces falling out or cracking. The way to deal with this issue to have your stained glass restored. We will either flatten the lead out, if possible or remove all the glass pieces and re-leading the panel.

Re-Leading to Restore Stained Glass

Re-leading stained glass is done extensively in most restoration processes and is incredibly effective. This is because our new lead additives result in the stained glass window potentially lasting another 200 years before needing restoration. Re-leading involves taking the pieces apart one by one and removing the old lead and replacing it with new lead. After this, the glass pieces are cleaned put back into their original place with the new wraps around each glass piece. The effect from this is a beautiful new look to your stained glass window after the process and extended life. You can expect another 100-200 years of life to your stained glass windows after the restoration of its lead.

Preserving the Value of Stained Glass

When deciding whether your stained glass needs to be restored, it is important to remember that once the glass begins to break the process becomes more complicated and costly. In order to preserve the monetary value, an expert restorer, like us at Stained Glass San Antonio, is now needed. This is because the glass colors and textures must be matched precisely to the originals–and new plus old techniques are needed. We excel at both. At Stained Glass San Antonio, we have restored thousands of pieces of antique stained glass and understand how to use a combination of traditional and modern techniques to do so. Our skills are what you need to keep your stained glass windows value intact as well as the window itself.
San Antonio Church Restoration

Exterior Protective Coverings for Your Church Stained Glass

In addition to restoration services, we also provide premium exterior protective coverings to help protect your stained glass. These are available for both religious and commercial properties. Our aluminum systems provide a similar solution to commercial storefront systems and can be used with a variety of different protective coverings. We can install plexiglass, tempered, plate, or laminated glass depending on your specific project needs.

Our modern, durable systems are available in different finishes as well including dark bronze, white, metal finish, and custom colors. These systems have built-in internal ventilation for helping you achieve proper ventilation without the need of creating it through existing glass or frames.

The added benefit of these systems is that they help lower your maintenance needs. By preserving your stained glass and window frames, you’ll no longer need to periodically paint your wooden frames damaged from weathering. They’re also less labor-intensive to install and provide a permanent, long-term solution. Exterior protective covering panels can also be easily removed and replaced if they’re ever damaged.

Restoration Versus New Stained Glass?

Many of our clients ask us whether they should scrap the old windows and simply have new ones created. This is really a personal issue that only your church body can make. However, we do encourage attempting to keep your vintage church stained glass. While replacing the stained glass windows may be cheaper on the front end a restored panel will likely have a value of 2 or 3 times that of something new.

Free Advice and Valuations of Your Stained Glass

At Stained Glass San Antonio, we consider ourselves experts are happy to offer free advice and valuations of your stained glass before and after restoration. Feel free to reach out and email us photos we can ever do some rough calculations online.